Kickass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps_excerpt by entpress


									                                                                  chapter four

             step two
           Exploit Your
      Competition’s Weaknesses
Step 2 of the Copywriting Outline can be the most
enjoyable part of developing the copywriting plan
for your product. It is your chance to put into
words why your competition is completely inferior
                                                                LEARNING OBJECTIVES
to you. Have fun, but proceed with caution.
    To write compelling copy, it is essential that you           How to research your
know what differentiates your product from the                   competitors and find
competition. Once you know your competitors’                        differentiators
weaknesses, you must make sure your audience                               I

knows them and understands why buying your
                                                                 How to quantify and
competitors’ products would be a terrible mistake.
                                                              communicate differentiators
Get started by thoroughly researching your com-                            I

petition and understanding what they offer in terms
of products and services. Next, list the elements of             How to use customer
their offerings that are inferior to your own. Feel             testimonials and expert
free to tear the competition apart but be realistic in                 opinions
your comparisons. You want to be able to support
your claims if you are challenged.                            How to create hard and soft


               Additionally, as part of your competitor analysis, you need to take the
          time to investigate how they react to challenges. For example, if you launch
                       an advertising campaign stating that your prices are the lowest
                           available, will your competition likely follow suit by dropping
                             their prices to match or beat yours? If so, your advertising
      be successful,
                              campaign will be outdated and inaccurate before you have
     you must always
                              a chance to earn a return on your investment. You must
     know what your
                              determine your ultimate advertising goals and then create
      competition is
                             copy that will help you meet these goals. Don’t be short-
                           sighted by ignoring the reaction of your competition. Not
                        only should you evaluate previous responses your competitors
             made to market changes, but you should also theorize on how they will
          react to the steps you take to market your business and products in the future.
          Most companies will counter an attack. From the start, learn to expect a
          response from your competition and craft your marketing campaign and cor-
          responding copy in ways that consider this reaction.

            There are two schools of thought related to mentioning your competitors in
            your advertising and marketing copy. The first school believes you should
            never mention your competitors by name, while the second school believes
            that mentioning your competitors does not negatively impact the effec-
            tiveness of your advertising investment. I belong to the first school of
                First, the reason for not mentioning your competitors in your copy is
            simple. Why give your competitors free publicity, and why give them an
            opportunity to respond with a counterattack? Second, depending on the type
            of business you’re promoting in your copy, many consumers might not even
            know who your competitors are. Why would you want to tell potential cus-
            tomers about your competitors’ products or services? Don’t give your cus-
            tomers the opportunity to research your competitor and learn what they have
                                                                        STEP TWO    I   39

to offer. When you write copy, you want the audience to think about the
business, product, and service being advertised and not the other options in
the marketplace. Take some time to evaluate both schools of thought before
determining whether or not you want to mention your competitors in your

If you can quantify the differences between your product and your com-
petitor’s product, you’ve hit the jackpot. For example, if your competitor
only offers a one-year guarantee on their product, but you offer a five-year
guarantee, shout it to the world in your copy. In Step 4 of the Copywriting
Outline, I’ll show you how to personalize your copy to effectively sell this dif-
ference to your customers, but in Step 2, just list the differences between
you and your competitors and quantify them whenever possible. Nothing
helps draw attention to the differences between products better than hard
numbers. There are so many ways to quantify the differences between you
and your competition. Get creative and have fun with it. Following is a list
of differentiators that are easily quantifiable:

    I   Selection
    I   Price
    I   Store hours
    I   Customer service hours
    I   Delivery hours
    I   Delivery rates
    I   Parking availability
    I   Location
    I   Number of employees available and dedicated to customers’ needs
    I   Free tie-ins: For example, some camera stores include batteries with
        a new camera purchase, which is a nice savings to customers that is
        not offered by all stores.

            Another effective way to differentiate your product from the competition
            is through published reports or expert opinions. If there is an organization
            or expert affiliated with your line of business who has published articles or
            interviews related to your product or service, you may be able to use that
            information in your copy. For example, imagine the Association of Carpet
            Cleaners (a fictitious organization) published a report stating that using
            XYZ Stain Remover along with 123 Cleaner is the most effective way to
                        remove red wine stains from carpets. Now let’s say that Joe’s
                               Carpet Cleaning uses this method to remove stains, but
                                   Joe’s competitor, Bob’s Carpet Cleaning, uses an older
                                     cleaning method and solution. This is the perfect
        your customers
                                      opportunity for Joe to significantly differentiate his
        for testimonials.
                                       business from his competition. Now the consumer
     You’ll be surprised how
                                       will think, “It’s not just Joe telling me his cleaning
     many will be happy to
                                      service is better than Bob’s, but the Association of
        help and share
                                      Carpet Cleaners says so, too.” While Bob’s method
          their opinions.
                                    of removing wine stains from carpets still works very
                                 well, Joe has an authoritative source to help differentiate
                            his service in his customers’ minds.
                 Obtaining expert opinions and testimonials related directly to you, your
            business, and your product is also an excellent resource for future copy-
            writing initiatives. If you don’t have any expert opinions or testimonials, don’t
            worry. Getting them is as simple as asking your customers for testimonials
            and your business associates for expert opinions. For example, an expert
            opinion could come from an organization or group to which you belong,
            and a testimonial could come from one of your best customers. Expert
            opinions are always the most compelling when you can tie an important
            organization or title to the person providing them, while testimonials are
            most effective when you include a picture of the customer who provided the
                                                                       STEP TWO    I   41

comment in your marketing materials. Expert opinions and customer testi-
monials from anonymous sources are often meaningless to consumers
because they wonder if they are even legitimate. For opinions and testimo-
nials to add value to your copy, they need to come from verifiable sources.
It’s also important to remember to obtain written permission to use a cus-
tomer’s or expert’s words and likeness in your copy.

Frequently, you will not be able to quantify a key differentiator between
your product and the competition. Don’t be afraid to get creative to com-
municate subjective points to your customers. For example, many
products are very price sensitive and demand increases with a drop in
prices or decreases when prices rise. In economics terminology, these
products are considered “elastic,” meaning price has a strong effect on
sales. Other differentiators are often secondary when it comes to a cus-
tomer’s buying decision. Products whose demand is not affected by price
changes (including most necessities) are considered “inelastic.” Milk is a
perfect example of an inelastic product. Most people are not sensitive to
where they buy their milk, and prices don’t vary drastically from one store
to another. Convenience is one of the few strong differentiators in terms
of a milk purchasing decision (i.e., the location of the store). How else can
the store owner differentiate himself to draw in more customers? One way
is to create soft differentiators.
     Unlike a hard differentiator that is easily quantifiable and proven, a soft
differentiator is more subjective. For example, differentiating cheese can be
challenging, so the California Milk Producers Advisory Board created copy
to advertise Real California Cheese that said, “Great cheese comes from
happy cows, and happy cows come from California.” The copy was sup-
ported by clever commercial concepts that helped attract the attention of
the audience. Who knew that cheese from happy cows is better than from

            depressed cows? No one, until Real California Cheese made customers think
            there was a difference by creating a soft differentiator.
                                  Differentiating yourself from your competition is critical
                                 and including hard and soft differentiators in your copy
              As you               will make your ads more compelling and effective. As
          research your              I’ll discuss in further detail in Step 9 of the Copy-
       competitors, they’re           writing Outline, be sure you can prove your claims
       researching you. Be            when comparing your product or service to the com-
     prepared to respond to           petition. Most importantly, be relentless in your
      competitive attacks             research of the competition. A critical component to
           against you.             your product’s success is being aware of the market-
                                   place, including your competition. Staying current on
                                the changes in your competition’s business and products
                           will allow you to capitalize on potential differentiators in future
            copywriting projects. Having that knowledge will put you in the driver’s seat
            where you can proactively launch marketing campaigns and corresponding
            copy from a position of control rather than simply reacting to your com-
            petitors’ actions.

            If your business or product does have negative features associated with it,
            don’t try to hide them. Instead, attack them head on. It’s inevitable that your
            competitors will use your weakness as a way to differentiate their businesses
            from yours, and they will undoubtedly promote that differentiator as a
            benefit of choosing their products or services. Before your competitors have
            the chance to create a message targeted to your weakness, find a way to turn
            your weakness into a positive. If you can’t find a way to turn your weakness
            into a copywriting opportunity, it may be time to reevaluate that part of your
            business and make the necessary changes, so you can stay competitive in the
            eyes of consumers.
                                                                        STEP TWO    I   43

Following are examples of copywriting that focus on differentiators to give
you some ideas of how you can exploit your competition’s weaknesses.

                      Product: Kids Taste Juice
        Differentiator: competitors’ juices contain more sugar

The owners of Kids Taste Juice know their product is healthier than com-
peting products. They need to use effective copywriting to draw attention to
this differentiator and make sure customers understand why the product is
healthier. Rather than simply saying, “Kids Taste Juice contains only 60%
sugar,” the copy needs to spell out the difference in no uncertain terms. A
more compelling copy approach could read, “Kids Taste Juice is made with
20% less sugar than similar juices. Your kids don’t need that extra sugar. You
can feel good about giving them the healthier juice when you pour a glass of
Kids Taste Juice.” This copy quantifies the difference between Kids Taste
Juice and the competition and points out exactly how that differentiator
affects a customer in a positive way through a specific benefit (i.e., less sugar
for children and a healthier product). The copy makes customers feel good
about buying Kids Taste Juice because it taps into customers’ feelings of guilt
about giving their children a drink that is unhealthy.
     To further explain, “Kids Taste Juice contains only 60% sugar” states the
amount of sugar in the juice. This may be a commendable statistic but out
of context it is not useful to the audience. However, when the copy draws a
direct comparison to the competition and highlights a quantifiable differen-
tiator (“Kids Taste Juice is made with 20% less sugar than similar juices. Your
kids don’t need that extra sugar. You can feel good about giving them the
healthier juice when you pour a glass of Kids Taste Juice.”), it takes on a new
level of importance to the audience. Now they can understand that Kids
Taste Juice is better than other juices in a specific area, which is undoubtedly
very important to parents. When writing copy, it is important to understand

           how your product is different from the competition and turn those differ-
           entiators into compelling copy points that relate directly to your customers.

                     Product: Bug-Be-Gone Exterminators—residential
                                  extermination services
                            Differentiator: length of guarantee

           Again, when you know your product is better than your competitors’ product
           and you can quantify it, shout it to the world. If you offer a six-month guar-
           antee on your services but your competition only offers a three-month guar-
           antee, make sure your customers know about that difference. Then tell them
           how that difference will affect them personally. For example, instead of
           saying, “Our work is guaranteed for six months,” show your customers that
           your competitors don’t offer this guarantee. A more effective use of copy to
           sell this differentiator might say, “Unlike other exterminators who only stand
           behind their work for three months, we’ll guarantee you won’t see another
           bug for the next six months.” Which copy version is more compelling and
           would motivate you to act? The second version is more effective because it
           tells the customer that choosing the competitor is a mistake while personal-
           izing the benefits of getting Bug-Be-Gone Exterminators’ special service

                     Product: Everything Appliances—kitchen appliances
                         Differentiator: free delivery and installation

           Delivery and installation services are great ways to differentiate your business
           from the competition. First, these differentiators are quantifiable. You can
           show customers how much money they’ll save by choosing your product
           instead of competitors’ products. There is perhaps no greater motivator in
           purchasing decisions than saving money. Make sure your customers know
           the benefits of free delivery and installation vs. other delivery and installation
           offers. Instead of saying, “We offer free delivery and installation,” personalize
                                                                       STEP TWO    I   45

the service for your customers. Your copy could say, “You’ll spend up to $100
for delivery and installation at other appliance stores, but when you shop at
Everything Appliances, you can keep that money in your pocket because all
deliveries are free.” Which copy would motivate you more? You can’t assume
customers can interpret your copy. It’s up to you to ensure they understand
it, and they are motivated to act on it.

                  Product: José’s Gas Station—gasoline
                          Differentiator: clean

Gas is an inelastic product; customers generally buy gas regardless of the
price, and the major differentiator is typically convenience (primarily in
terms of location). The owner of José’s Gas Station could further differen-
tiate his business by creating a soft differentiator based on the cleanliness of
his station. Knowing most gas stations are not very clean, the owner could
make an effort to ensure that his gas station is clean and a pleasure to visit.
Copy could drive this point home to customers by saying, “Make your next
pit stop at José’s Gas Station—guaranteed to be as clean as your own home
(even the bathrooms).” This copy points out the differentiator and appeals
to a customer’s emotional trigger of the desire for comfort. Everyone wants
to be comfortable and feel like they’re at home when they’re traveling. This
copy feeds that desire and challenges a traditional assumption that most gas
station bathrooms are dirty.

There are many famous ads that focus on product differentiation. All adver-
tisers and business owners want to show customers how their products are
better than their competitors’ products. The marketing team behind Hefty
Garbage Bags hit a home run in product differentiation advertising with their
“Hefty, hefty, hefty. Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy,” campaign. Just six words of
copy tell a complete story. Hefty Garbage Bags are stronger than other

           garbage bags. Sounds great. It’s simple, in-your-face copywriting that tells
           customers in no uncertain terms why Hefty Garbage bags are better than
           other garbage bags.
                Another example is Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and their ad copy that
           promises, “No more tears.” Not only does this differentiate Johnson’s Baby
           Shampoo from their competition but it also creates a great benefit for cus-
           tomers. Johnson’s Baby Shampoo will not sting their children’s eyes. What
           parent wants their child to cry during bathing and shampooing? This copy
           leverages the emotional feeling of providing comfort and security as well as
           the trigger of guilt. First, parents want their children to feel loved and secure,
           but at the same time, they feel guilty when parental requirements (like sham-
           pooing) cause their children to be unhappy. Johnson’s Baby Shampoo solves
           all of these problems, and the copy clearly communicates the benefits to con-
           sumers who choose to purchase Johnson’s Baby Shampoo over competitors’
                One of the best ad campaigns that focused on differentiating a company
           and product from the competition was created for Saturn. When General
           Motors launched their Saturn division, its whole purpose was to provide a dif-
           ferent kind of car-buying experience for customers. No longer would cus-
           tomers have to haggle over prices and wonder if they were being taken
           advantage of or getting a great deal. With Saturn, prices are final and cars are
           safe. Copy in their famous ad campaign said, “A different kind of company. A
           different kind of car.” This was a message customers were longing to hear, and
           they responded. Customers trusted Saturn and appreciated the company’s
           honesty. By focusing their copy on key differentiators and emotional triggers,
           Saturn built a solid brand image and boosted sales in the 1990s.

           Take some time to research your competitors thoroughly as you work
           through Step 2 of the Copywriting Outline. Define the hard and soft differ-
                                                                           STEP TWO     I   47

See Chapter 17 for the complete Copywriting Outline for ABC Tax Services as well as ad
and marketing collateral samples using copy culled from the Copywriting Outline.

Copywriting Outline Step 2
Step 2: Exploit Your Competition’s Weaknesses—How are my competitors’ products
inferior to mine?
  I   They offer no peace-of-mind guarantee. ABC Tax Services provides a Confidence
      Guarantee that no other tax preparer can beat. If you receive a refund that is dif-
      ferent from what ABC Tax Services quotes, ABC Tax Services will refund the dif-
      ference (up to 10%, excluding withholdings for IRS or medical debt or other liens
      against the refund). Notice how the guarantee was branded as a Confidence Guar-
      antee to further appeal to consumers’ desire for trust and security.
  I   They employ tax preparers who are not members of the National Association of
      Tax Practitioners. You can rest assured that your tax return will be prepared accu-
      rately because every tax preparer at ABC Tax Services has passed stringent testing
      requirements set by the National Association of Tax Practitioners. That’s just one
      more way ABC Tax Services helps you safely navigate the tax maze.
  I   They offer no audit assistance. If your tax return is flagged for an audit, you won’t
      be left alone. A representative from ABC Tax Services will work with you to nav-
      igate the audit process from start to finish.
  I   They charge for e-filing. ABC Tax Services will e-file your tax return for free, so
      you’ll get your refund fast and at no extra charge.
  I   They don’t have a live answering service. ABC Tax Services is here when you need
      help. A representative answers our phones 24 hours per day, which means you
      can call us any time you need us. Don’t wait until tomorrow morning. Call now!

           entiators between you and your competition and then quantify those differ-
           entiators wherever possible. This is one of the most enjoyable steps of the
           Copywriting Outline, so have fun with it. However, it is critical that you are
           able to substantiate the claims you make in your copy, particularly those you
           make against your competitors, so tread carefully. An effective way to support
           your claims is through customer testimonials and expert opinions. Don’t be
           afraid to ask for them.
               Once you’ve completed Step 2 of the Copywriting Outline and thor-
           oughly torn your competition apart, take a moment to congratulate yourself
           on finishing the most challenging part of any copywriting project. Steps 1
           and 2 of the Copywriting Outline lay the groundwork for all of your future
           copywriting projects. Make sure your work is comprehensive, then take a
           breath and get ready to turn your product’s features, benefits, and differen-
           tiators into compelling, action-oriented copy in the next steps of your Copy-
           writing Outline.

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